COVID-19 Guidance and Resources for Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
Note: Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes should contact their Middlesex-London Health Unit investigator with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or other infectious diseases by calling 519-663-5317.
Additional steps to protect long-term care home residents
Ontario announced taking additional steps to protect long-term care home residents in a News Release on Friday, October 1st. The announcement identifies further action to protect long-term care residents and staff, including making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all in-home staff, support workers, students, and volunteers by November 15, 2021. Full details can be found within the News Release and the Minister’s Directive.
Visitors to Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes
Recent Updates to Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes Visiting Policy
The Government of Ontario has updated its "Information for visitors to long-term care homes" to be in line with the province's Roadmap to Reopen. For a summary of permitted activities at each step of the roadmap, click here →
Review the following for guidance on visitors:
- Retirement Homes Policy to Implement Directive #3
- Scenario Matrix: Retirement Home Covid-19 Visiting Policy
- COVID-19: Visiting Long-Term Care Homes
- COVID-19 Guidance Document for Long-Term Care Homes in Ontario
- COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007
Guidance for Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes from the Middlesex-London Health Unit
The Middlesex-London Health Unit strongly recommends the following for all Long-Term Care Homes (LTCHs) and Retirement Homes (RHs) in London and Middlesex County:
- Student placement and activities in LTCHs and RHs must cease for the duration of an outbreak unless there is critical need for staff such that students are necessary for ongoing operation. In this instance, students will then be treated as 'employees' and will not be permitted to train or work at any other health care facility.
- Residents should wear a mask anytime they are outside of their rooms.
Additionally, given the rising incidence of COVID-19 in the community, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has updated its quarantine guidance for household members of individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms. All household contacts of symptomatic individuals are to quarantine while awaiting the test results of the symptomatic individual. For Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes, the follow guidance now applies:
- If a staff member's household member is symptomatic, the staff member should not go to work until the symptomatic person's test results are known.
- If the test results are negative, the staff member may return to work and their normal activities and monitor themselves for the development of symptoms.
- In exceptional circumstances where clinical care would be severely compromised without additional staffing, work-quarantine may be considered. Additional directions on work-quarantine can be found here.
COVID-19 Testing for LTCHs and RHs
Long-Term Care Homes
Effective July 16, 2021, COVID-19 tests will no longer be required for fully immunized and asymptomatic staff, caregivers, and visitors prior to entering long-term care homes. Learn more →
For full details about long-term care home surveillance testing and access to homes, please read the Minister's directive.
The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) recommends that "retirement homes have a policy on a routine asymptomatic screen test program that takes into account the risks and benefits of voluntary, routine, asymptomatic testing and aligns with their resources and needs, as determined by licensees." For full details of what the policy should include, read: RHRA Recommendation for Asymptomatic COVID-19 Screen Testing for Retirement Homes.
COVID-19 swab ordering process:
Healthcare Materials Management Services (HMMS) has assumed the distribution and delivery of COVID-19 swabs to all organizations across Ontario.
- Complete this electronic form and submit it online. HMMS will fulfill order requests within 72 hours and will have the COVID-19 swabs delivered to your facility.
- To ensure enough COVID-19 swabs are available for all organizations, please restrict orders to a maximum of 110% of your resident and staffing numbers combined, over a one-week period.
- If you have any questions or concerns regarding this process, contact HMMSCovid19@hmms.on.ca
Effective July 1, 2021 all long-term care home operators must comply with the Minister’s Directive: Long-term Care Home COVID-19 Immunization Policy.
Staff must either provide proof of vaccination, written proof of a medical reason for not getting the vaccine or provide proof that they have completed an educational program approved by the long-term care home operators.
The Health Unit has prepared an educational program about:
- The impact of COVID-19;
- How COVID-19 vaccines work;
- Vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines;
- The benefits of vaccination against COVID-19;
- The risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19;
- Possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination; and
- How to get vaccinated.
Additional resources you may find helpful include:
- All staff and essential visitors must wear surgical/procedure masks at all times for the duration of full shifts or visits in the long-term care and retirement home.
The following videos provide a refresher on the correct procedures for donning and doffing:
The staff of long-term care and retirement homes can subscribe to receive email updates and alerts by emailing email@example.com with the subject line "add to LTC and RH distribution list" and let us know at which facility you're employed. To read previous alerts sent by email, please click the link below.
For general guidance on: Environmental Cleaning, Personal Protective Equipment, and Infection Prevention and Control; Screening, Symptoms, Testing, and Case Management; and Quarantine and Self-Isolation, visit the Guidance and Setting-Specific Resources for Healthcare Providers and Institutions.
Last modified on: October 1, 2021